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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Cheese, Hot Sauce, Mustard and people who can grow seedlings

About every five days we collect milk from a local dairy in a 20 litre container. Usually we bottle between 5 and 9 litres for drinking ourselves, the cats and dogs. That leaves between 12 and 16 litres for something else. If you do the math it doesn't seem to add up but that's because the container holds 21 litres when absolutely full.

Sometimes the excess is used for yogurt but mostly it goes towards a cheese. The standard inventory in the cheese fridge is Fetta, Haloumi, Parmesan, soft Blue and a variety of hard cheeses. Most of these  hard cheeses are Cheddars or Havarti. Occasionally (as time permits) we experiment with a flavoured cheese such as peppercorns or caraway. While making wine in February some grape marc was used to store an existing cheese to observe the results. This turned out well with the distinct winey flavour permeating the Havarti. The Hispanico from three months ago was OK but a bit dry. A Colby from last year was tasty. Yesterday being a bit short of time and in the experimental mood a hard cheese was knocked out using a combination of starter cultures selected on the basis that they hadn't been used much and the process was a mix of the Havarti steps and whatever fitted into the day's schedule. The curd looks good and it will be an interesting cheese to try when it matures.



One of the milder Chilli bushes was loaded with large red chillies and finally while Jean was away the harvest was turned into a chilli sauce. Or will become a chilli sauce. The recipe calls for a pureeing of the chillies with a little salt and allowing it to ferment before adding vinegar to taste for storage. Just an interesting experiment.

Fermenting Chillies

The MP3 player has been working overtime playing podcasts of Radio National's First Bite. The episode on Mustard struck a cord and fortunately having a large container of Brown Mustard seeds worked in well with the recipe which was just seeds soaked in Red Wine Vinegar for a couple of days and then run in a blender for a time. The blender didn't completely puree the seeds leaving a gritty mustard. After a couple of days to age the tasting was impressive. Strong full flavoured mustard nothing like a shop bought product. Last night it went well with the Falafels.

First Mustard attempt
Falafels of a sort

Being impressed by this first result and just by chance having a book on mustard in our home library another recipe is being attempted. A fully fledged Dijon. Now this is the difficult part, the herb and spice cupboard didn't quite come to the party. We didn't have Chervil or Tarragon but the cupboard yielded the other dozen or so ingredients. Some of the items used were freshly grated as there was no dried equivalent but in the end we have a batch of stuff soaking in the last of our Verjuice from a few vintages ago.

Dijon of a sort soaking

A friend down the road rang to say she had too many late season Tomatoes and would we want a few. "Yes please". She is organic and has a large greenhouse where she raises her vegetables. We called in for the obligatory morning tea before collecting the Tomatoes.  Then we noticed her seedling raising bench groaning with every type of Autumn vegetable. Including two large trays of Onion seedlings.

"How do you do it".

"I just chuck them into the tray with some soil mix".

Of course we left with a few seedlings as well.

We all seem to have strengths in different areas. Raising seedlings is not one of ours. I wonder if she would be interested in taking payment in wine for more seedlings?

A selection of seedlings
Just realised what a full day we had. A trip to the pool in the morning. A quick drive across the river to move cows, after morning tea Jean went harrowing while I mowed the lawns and then went down to the pool for a second time to annoy the pool manager with 40 more laps and a busy afternoon in the kitchen. Some days are just really productive.

Slept well.

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